New York City Whirlwind Foodie Weekend

Posted on November 11, 2011


Still trying to keep up with my little sister, Ishy, I spent the past weekend in New York City. Arriving on a Greyhound early Saturday morning, I had a hidden motive to pepper the weekend with foodie stops. I was planning to grab myself two Metro day passes for Saturday and Sunday. I find out that they don’t sell it anymore. Ah well, I resorted to a Metro Week Pass. I figured with all the stops Ishy would do, it would pay for what it costs.

Ayen, Ishy and I started at Battery Park, waiting in a long queue to ride a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Knowing I’d be restless on the line, I gave in and bought some candied cashews. It’s reminiscent of the taste of candied peanuts I have back in Manila (insert in a swift pang of homesickness) and I think I unabashedly ate more than my two sisters. As the ferry ride passed through the Statue of Liberty, I regretted how I did not put it on a video. It was quite amazing how many cameras were clicking in a frenzy all around me (I conveniently found myself a seat at the center bench of the ferry roof) as we were passing by the front of the famous icon of NYC. The minute it circles to the back, all the cameras disappeared along with the crowd. Just a few stayed for a few more snapshots and the ferry docked. As expected, my little sister and I started goofing off taking funny pics. My favorite one is one that I included in this post, Ishy pushing the statue out-of-the-way. I shot this image lying on my back on the sidewalk, wanting an unusual perspective. When I stood up, I found some people followed suit. We went back to the ferry and hopped on to see Ellis Island. It’s a historical buff’s heaven for photographs of old. I stand there again in awe of how timeless the images were. I could only hope that I could produce even one image that would outlive me.

Once back to the mainland, we stopped by Occupy Wall Street. From a previous walking tour, Ishy learned that some participants of Occupy Wall Street stencils t-Shirts for a donation. She thought it would be a cool souvenir that would have some historical significance in the future. We grab a cheap I <3 NYC shirt by the sidewalk and Ishy got her t-shirt stenciled 99% in a matter of minutes.

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We moved on to Little Italy and visited a place that Ayen and Ishy discovered a few days before I arrived, a place that only sells rice puddings. It's quite curious that a whole store would be all about rice pudding and nothing else. When we reached the store, I understood why the place would spark an interest. The place was full of self-deprecating humor about not having any defense when it comes to sweets. Rice to Riches have come up with different flavors of rice pudding and have packaged it in an upbeat way that it draws a crowd. They generously hand out samples to try the different flavors and my sisters and I settled to two, Possessed by Espresso with chocolate chips and Hit And Run Custard. The servings are generous and you would indeed feel guilty about indulging in too much sweets. But I can see why people would go back for it. The flavor and the right sweetness are with every spoonful. I particularly like the hit of espresso with the chocolate bits.

One little thing about this food trippin’ that was an epic fail was me not realizing how far Greenwich is from Little Italy. But come to think of it, maybe that walk was good. We did eat all that pudding! The next stop I was planning to show Ishy was Faicco’s Pork Store and Italian Specialties. The last time I was in NYC, I joined a Foods of New York Tour and for me, this store was the highlight of that 3-hour food trippin’. I just had to go back to taste the risotto ball that made a big impression on me then and share the experience with Ayen and Ish. The store was just as I remembered it, cozy and homey and I wanted to try everything I see. As I know I have little time, I went for what I know and bought several risotto balls for us to snack on. As I stand by the corner of Bleecker and Cornelia St, I was savoring each cheesy bite. Just like on my first try, I wish they have this store in Toronto (insert deep sigh + huge grin…lol)

We have then met up with my Ayen’s in-laws and they brought us to an Ethiopian restaurant, Awash, for dinner. Being a big group of 9, we ordered big plates of meat and veggie samplers to share. I particularly like the Ethiopian Beer that I have tried, St. George. It was light with no after-taste, just the way I like my beer. Amidst all the family banter and trading of plates back and forth, I thought I was already stuffed. I had to change my mind when I heard my sister’s sister-in-law, Dolly, said that we have to move to an Italian cafe for coffee and dessert. Talk about having a major glutton of a weekend, I did not even feel guilty when I started walking to the direction of De Robertis Paticceria and Caffe. I only planned to have an espresso but Dolly insisted they have really good canoli’s and Italian sweets. So my two sisters and I decided we all would split a chocolate-covered canoli and a cheesecake. De Robertis has been around since 1904 and I figured if they have lasted that long, it has to be that the food is good. I agree with all the reviewers at Urbanspoon. Their sweets were amazing! Really old-school yumminess that made us forget our glutton guilt. LOL.

Sunday morning, we have our hearts set on visiting a flea market up at the Hell’s Kitchen area. Before heading there, we had our breakfast at a bustling diner, Europan Cafe. Between the three of us we shared a big bacon omelette, a big Belgian waffle with fresh fruits, a carrot muffin and a big tall glass of freshly-squeeze OJ. That breakfast was so hearty. Good thing we walked it off towards the direction of the flea market. The place was quite a gem, wishing that Toronto was not so far away and I could bring home some bulky items. It was a sea of antiques and vintage paraphernalia. What I spent most of my time was in a booth where old photos and vintage postcards were being sold (like that was a surprise :p) . I must confess lately, I have been interested in old photographs (circa 1900’s) of Toronto and seeing a whole booth to sort through was too much of an eye candy for me not to stop. We spent about an hour in the flea market until we were thirsty once again. We stopped by Tick Tock Diner for refreshments until it was time to part ways with Ishy. She planned to see friends and extend her trip all the way to Boston.

While waiting for our Greyhound night bus to Toronto, Ayen and I walked a bit more, exploring Union Square, Grand Central Station (the Grand Central Market was a big plus!), the Chrysler Building, United Nations and Little Italy once again. I think I saw more of NYC on this trip as compared to last year when I was here longer. After all that walking, we rewarded ourselves with an early dinner at Lombardi’s, whose claim to fame is that it’s the birthplace of the New York style pizza. The place was evidently old school, with stained wood panels, tiled floors, comfy booths and a well-stocked bar. Ayen and I went for the Original Margherita Pizza, topped with San Manzano tomato sauce, mozarella, Pecorino Romano and fresh basil. We added pancetta into the pizza and I was in heaven with the first bite. Suffice to say, between my sister and me, we finished off a 14 inch. The surprise additional treat was a welcome view of the kitchen. For a foodie like me, it’s always a thrill to see the background scenes. What a way to finish off a foodie weekend, don’t you think so?

I look at this blog and maybe the guilt is starting to set in. I am in a disbelief that I did this all in two days. Ah well, such is a life of a foodie.

Rice To Riches on UrbanspoonFaicco's on UrbanspoonAwash on UrbanspoonDe Robertis Pasticceria and Caffe on UrbanspoonEuroPan Cafe on UrbanspoonLombardi's Pizza on Urbanspoon